SYRACUSE In the two seasons that Dan Kaigler and Ben Hackett have served as the focal point, the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team has made two trips to Glens Falls Civic Center in March, winning the state Class B championship in 2012 and going to the state semifinals a year later.
Yet the Gaelic Knights know that, if it wants to go that far again, it will need more than a pair of superstars at their best.
Ludden got a good idea of what that formula might look like in Saturday night's grand finale of the 11th annual Peppino's Invitaitonal, when it nearly blew an 18-point lead to host Henninger, but regrouped in the fourth quarter to pull away and beat the Black Knights 64-49.
"We were doing some good things out there tonight, and were very unselfish," said head coach Pat Donnelly.
While this game served as the Gaelic Knights' opener, Henninger had played the night before, against Class AA power Fayetteville-Manlius, and lost 63-59. Thus, Ludden was a far fresher team, and early on there was indication that such freshness would matter.
Applying tight man-to-man defensive pressure, the Gaelic Knights allowed just one field goal in the first six minutes as it bolted out to a 15-3 lead, with 10 of the points coming from Kaigler and Hackett.
A burst of offense from Henninger's star point guard, Romero Collier, closed the gap to 21-18 early in the second quarter, but Ludden countered with a 13-0 run that made the score 39-21. By then, Hackett had 13 points and Kaigler had 10 points, their combined size and quickness proving far too much for the Black Knights' defenders to contain.
Early in the third quarter, though, Hackett picked up his third and fourth fouls, and went to the bench. As he sat there, Henninger charged again, forcing Ludden into a rash of turnovers and converting those mistakes into baskets on the other end.